It is easy to become so engrossed in life that our commitment to the Lord is forgotten and everything else has a greater priority.
Haggai 1:1 – 5
In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest:
2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’”
3 Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”
5 Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways
The Lord Jesus told the parable of the “Pearl of Great Value” in which a merchant found a pearl of such extraordinary value that he sold everything he owned to purchase it. Jesus was not teaching about buying and selling pearls but about himself. The point of the parable was that Jesus is so precious we should give up every possible hindrance to ensure that we have Jesus as our Lord. Sadly, many people begin their walk with the Lord with that sort of zeal but quickly lose their enthusiasm and start living like everyone else.
That is very relevant when we consider this opening section of Haggai. The people had returned to Israel from the exile in Babylon. They were the devout, zealous ones who jumped at the opportunity to rebuild the temple. Unfortunately, after a brief effort to begin the work, they became discouraged because of opposition and stopped. They then began to get on with life. They built their own houses and procrastinated on the work of the temple. They said, “the time has not come to build the temple.” (v2) Life became more prosperous and they improved their houses so that they had “panelled” houses.
The Lord sent his prophet Haggai with a rebuke to them. He asked, “Is it time for you to live in your panelled houses while this house in in ruins?” He further tells them that they should “consider” their ways.
We might well ask what was the big problem? Was it just an issue of obedience to the Lord? Not exactly. The temple symbolised the Lord’s presence with his people. It also pointed forward to the coming of the Lord Jesus who would be the perfect, once and for all sacrifice for his people. In other words, the temple symbolised the gospel for people who lived prior to the coming of Jesus. The rebuilt temple, as the central focus of their lives, was to permanently point to the hope of the coming saviour. A failure to rebuild the temple was tantamount to pushing the gospel into the background and taking up other priorities for life. Their inaction was then the equivalent of people in our age showing a zeal for the Lord but then starting to live like the rest of the world. The gospel is not the focus of their life and worldly comforts become the priority.
The Lord’s message to them, as it is to us, is to ask that penetrating question, “consider your ways!” He was asking them to think very carefully about their priorities in life. We should do the same and ensure that the gospel is the central focus of our lives. We need Jesus and his saving work to be the foundation of our lives and have everything else built around him. Or, in Jesus own words we need to permanently recognise that Jesus is the pearl of great value.
Head: We need to take very seriously the words, “give careful thought to your ways.”
Heart: If our priorities are wrong, we have probably lost or at least diminished our first love for Jesus and need to reflect on his amazing love for us.
Hands: Our activities often show where our priorities are and need to reflect a love for Jesus.
Father, I confess to you that Jesus is not always the priority of my life. In different ways I become seduced by the world and turn my focus from Jesus to myself and my comforts. Please forgive me and rekindle in me that first love for Jesus. In his name. Amen.
A Song to listen to: Centre My Life
Living Church – Creek Road